Jerry Nelson: Injuries

Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum
Sparkles, Jerry Nelson's cat, poses for a portrait.

My wife and I recently went away for a few days simply because it was summertime and we felt the urge to “get out of Dodge” even though we hadn’t broken any local ordinances and Marshall Dillon wasn’t out to arrest us.

As usual we left Sandy, our Golden Retriever, in charge of the farm. But Sandy has the attention span of a fruit fly, so we put our cat, Sparkles, in charge of Sandy. Sparkles is a natural superintendent; she can sit quietly for hours and watch the goings-on, her sapphire eyes narrowed to slits.

Before we left, we made the customary accommodations for our animals. We made certain that our Jersey steers had plenty of grain in their feeder and topped off Sandy’s dog food dispenser. We also set up a cat food dispenser next to the lawnmower in the garden shed. Sparkles likes to sleep on the lawnmower’s seat. It must be the kitty equivalent of staying at the Ritz-Carlton.

Everything seemed in order when we returned home. We expected that Sparkles, as is her habit, would meet us as we exited the car and entwine herself in our ankles and give a vociferous account about everything that happened while we were gone.

But no Sparkles. That was odd. At my wife’s insistence, I searched the places where Sparkles often takes naps. By definition, all of her siestas are catnaps.

No kitty, even though I spent a good deal of time calling for her. If someone had driven by our farmstead, they would have seen some weird guy wandering around and exclaiming “meow!” in a plaintive voice. Men in white coats would have been summoned.

Several cat-less days passed. My wife began to give up on Sparkles, saying that she had probably met an untimely end at the paws of some fearsome beast.

“Maybe a bear got her,” said my wife, even though there are no bears in these parts.

I was also about to give up hope. But one evening as I walked past some tall grass, I decided to call for the cat one last time. From deep within the jungle of leaves there came a faint “meow.”       

I retrieved Sparkles from the grass and carried her into our house. My wife was elated, although her joy was tempered when she saw that Sparkles was limping.

“She probably had to fight off a tiger,” said my wife even though there are no tigers in these parts.

Over the next few days, Sparkles spent lots of quality time on my wife’s lap. I noted that there were two injured women in our house. There was Sparkles with her injured hind leg and my wife with her arthritic knees.

We have consulted medical experts regarding her (my wife’s) knees. An orthopedic surgeon has recommended total knee replacement. But he is an orthopedic surgeon and when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

My wife asked the doctor about stem cell therapy as an alternative to surgery. He referred us to an FDA-approved stem cell clinic, and we are looking into going that route.

She is considering this step for a few reasons, but the biggest one is that she wants to help the advancement of stem cell research. There are numerous maladies that could possibly be mitigated by stem cell therapy. This field is currently in “the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk” phase; someday we will be zipping around in jets.

But Sparkles didn’t need stem cells. She just wanted several hours of lap time and be allowed to live in the house for a while.

While Sparkles was ensconced indoors, I noticed that her cat food continued to disappear. This wasn’t a surprise. Various varmints such as raccoons, possums and skunks have been known to help themselves to our cat chow buffet.

I set a live trap and baited it with cat food. The next morning, in the trap, growling and hissing and glaring at me menacingly was… John McEnroe!

No, it was actually a feral tomcat. He was a hulking specimen; my wife wasn’t very far off when she speculated that Sparkles had tangled with a tiger.

I put the caged cat in the bed of my pickup and took him for a looong ride. Literally. I motored many miles before releasing the wildcat into a wildlife production area where he can become part of the food chain. I don’t care which part.

Sparkles has since recovered fully and has shown us her gratitude by leaving a dead mouse on our doorstep.

What a good kitty! Now stop doing that, it probably violates some local ordinance.

If you'd like to contact Jerry Nelson to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can email him at His book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” is available at and at booksellers everywhere.